Reference Entry

Dowse, Thomas

Louis Leonard Tucker

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI:

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Dowse, Thomas (28 December 1772–04 November 1856), bibliophile, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Eleazer Dowse, a tanner and leather dresser, and Mehitable Brenthall. The family’s home was destroyed by fire when the British burned Charlestown during the battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775. The Dowses took up temporary residence in Holliston, then resettled in Sherborn, Massachusetts, where Eleazar Dowse renewed his trade. At age six Thomas was injured in a fall from an apple tree; the injury, coupled with a later bout with rheumatic fever, left him lame for life. Unable to participate in vigorous physical activities, the sickly child turned to books for “occupation and amusement.” He became an omnivorous reader, spending his every cent on books. He came to idolize Sir Walter Scott, the celebrated Scottish poet and novelist, because he also had suffered from lameness. Dowse later said that “lameness drove us both to books—him to making them, and me to reading them.” Dowse’s extensive reading compensated for a scant formal education. Like ...

Reference Entry.  945 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Museums, Libraries, and Information Sciences

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